The drug crystal meth is being looked at during a frightening flu season as a possible cure.
A study found that meth could suppress replication of the influenza A virus responsible for the flu. While the researchers conclude that meth “might not enhance influenza A virus infection and spread among meth abusers,” it cautions that further investigation is needed.
But just how does meth suppress the flu, if it really does? The researchers, from the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan and the University of Regensburg in Germany, found that meth “exerts an anti-influenza effect predominantly during the viral replication stage” of the flu. This means that the flu virus was unable to reproduce and spread, giving users reduced susceptibility to the disease.
The findings run counter to previous studies into meth’s effects on disease. The drug has previously been found to enhance the infection and replication of HIV because it suppresses immune response. In general, meth is believed to make users dramatically more likely to pick up viruses.
Gizmodo points out that the study was only conducted on one strain of flu. It’s impossible to know right now if the results would be the same for every strain of flu. Gizmodo also noted that the experiment took place in a lab on cells in Petri dishes – a very different scenario than real people in the real world.
The study is especially relevant this year, when flu cases have skyrocketed across the nation and a new strain of norovirus has started to spread around the world.
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